Why Improvement Kata and Training Within Industry Are Often Used Together


PUBLISHED: October 31, 2023
Brandon Brown owner of Continuous Coaching Commitment speaking to a man at a conference explaining why the Improvement Kata and Training Within Industry Techniques are often used together

The Training Within Industry (TWI) classes for supervisors and the Toyota Kata management system are used by many lean manufacturing practitioners as separate tools to solve many organizational productivity problems. TWI addresses the three components of good supervision (job relations, instruction and methods). Meanwhile, Toyota Kata addresses the underlying management routines and scientific thinking behind Toyota’s success with continuous improvement.

According to Brandon Brown, Master Kata Coach and owner of Continuous Coaching Commitment, LLC, many Kata practitioners are using TWI in conjunction with Toyota Kata to help clients achieve results. In fact, he says that his knowledge and skills, along with his decade of coaching experience, contribution to the Toyota Kata Practice Guide and completion of the TWI Institute 40-hour train-the-trainer certification, have led him to understand the connection between Kata and TWI.

One area where Brown combines these two methods is helping companies retain employees. Brown says the demand for skilled, qualified and engaged employees is a scarcity that many employers place a premium on. Increasing retention of this talent is a difficult endeavor. In fact, a lack of structured training and development opportunities is among the top reasons employees leave an organization. According to the 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.

In this high-turnover environment, Brown seeks to ensure that companies have a standard training method put in place using his knowledge of TWI and Kata. He combines the TWI job instruction breakdown and the four-step TWI-JI method as a Kata exploratory experiment to address the need for skilled workers and reduce the turnover rates within companies.

Exploratory experiments are often used by Kata practitioners to coach the learner out of the “apparent certainty” or “certainty” zones into the “uncertainty” or “learning” zones. Brown says it is in the learning zone that people can begin to observe the true obstacles that prevent them from reaching the target condition. After the exploratory experiment, Kata coaches push the learner even further into the “learning zone,” aiming for the most scientific of experiments—the single factor “testing of a hypothesis.” Often, the learner may iterate between these two types of experiments until they reach the “target condition.”

“The power of these two techniques when combined accelerates improvements, standardizes the new processes and lays the foundation for employee retention and worker satisfaction,” Brown says. “We all want to be a part of a winning team and organization. A characteristic especially so important in the millennial and Gen Z generations who want to impact the world around them as they develop professionally, not just climb the ladder of success.”

When organizations provide this learning environment and coach employees with the two management techniques of Kata and TWI, they can watch as these next generations flourish rather than bounce from job to job, looking for a company where their input is valued more than their contribution to the bottom line.

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